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  Age on Sunday   18 Dec 2016  Christmas delicacies

Christmas delicacies

THE ASIAN AGE. | REJIMON P R
Published : Dec 18, 2016, 4:29 am IST
Updated : Dec 18, 2016, 3:14 pm IST

Food has always been a vital part of celebrations which involved women cooking together and sticking to tradition.

Tharavu Kurumulagu Peralan
 Tharavu Kurumulagu Peralan

No history of a festival will be complete without a chapter on the special delicacies associated with it. The Surianis or the Syrian Christians of Kerala have their own delicacies which are mainly made and consumed around Christmas and Easter. Traditionally, the women of large Syrian Christian families would come together and prepare an elaborate feast fit for the occasion.

They make an array of dishes, mostly non-vegetarian, either on the eve of Christmas or on the morning itself. What gives an extra zing to these dishes is the slow cooking in earthen pots on fire kilns. Jeemol Koruth, a young home chef popular for her organic bakes, remembers such cooking sessions in her childhood at her home and remarks that more than relishing the food or preparing them, what made these occasions special was the bonding and the spirit of cooking together.

Non-vegetarian dishes cooked in coconut milk were and still are a huge hit during Christmas. Preparations for Christmas used to begin weeks in advance. Jeemol puts it this way: “The ladies of the family would do a count of the dishes days earlier. All were big decisions — the masalas to be made from scratch, new clay pots to be purchased in which to cook the delicious mulakitta meen (fish made with chilli), which cock and duck from the farm to be picked for the curry and where to order the toddy for the appams. Everything used to be neatly planned.” Of course, things have changed and the meat now comes from the supermarket rather than the farm while yeast has replaced kallu (toddy).

The newly-bought earthen pot would be seasoned with starch a day prior to the big day. While most dishes would be prepared in an earthen pot, the appam would be cooked in an iron pan. The Christmas day breakfast is also a special affair, scrumptious chicken or duck roast with appam being a favourite combo.

Here we look at three dishes which are special in their own way.  Kozhi Paal Pizhinjathu used to be a much loved dish that comes with gravy infused with the mild flavour of coconut milk. It is best when combined with pulichappam, which is a wholesome dish but unfortunately nearly extinct. Tharavu Kurumulagu Peralan (Duck made with pepper) is another mouth-watering dish that goes well with rice or appam.

Kozhi Paal Pizhinjathu
Chicken pieces    ½ kg
Sliced onion    1
Sliced ginger, garlic and
green chilli            1 tbsp each
Coconut oil                2 tbsp
Coriander seeds (roasted
and powdered)    2 tbsp
Pepper    1 tsp
Fennel seeds                 1 tbsp       
Turmeric    1/2 tsp
Mace       ½
Cardamom    4
Cloves    40
Cinnamon    1 stick
Curry leaves     1 sprig
Thin coconut milk          2 cup
Thick coconut milk          ¾ cup
Vinegar            1 tsp
TEMPERING
Coconut oil        1 tbsp
Mustard seeds         ½ tsp
Sliced small onions      2 tbsp
Whole red chilli        2
Curry leaves
Red chilli powder          ½ tsp

Kozhi Paal Pizhinjathu

Method
In a pan sauté onions, ginger, garlic, green chilli till golden brown. Add the ground powder and sauté well. Add thin coconut milk, salt and chicken pieces. Cook till done, add thick coconut milk and remove from fire. Add vinegar and mix well. Add tempering and serve.

Tharavu Kurumulagu Peralan
Duck           ½ kg
Onion          1
Green chilli           5
Ginger           1 inch piece
Garlic             5 cloves
Turmeric     ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Curry leaves     2 sprigs

FOR CRUSHING    
Grated coconut           1 cup
Small onion slices         2 tbsp
Garlic sliced               1 tbsp
Pepper                1 tbsp
Fennel seeds          1 tbsp
Cardamom                       5 pods
Cinnamon                1 inch piece
Coconut oil           2 tbsp
Coriander powder    1 tbsp
Chilli powder              1 tsp

Method
Cook duck with crushed onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, green chilli, salt, turmeric and curry leaves. Roast and crush the second set of ingredients in coconut oil. In a pan add half crushed mixture and duck. Boil for some time. In another pan heat coconut oil and sauté coriander and chilli powder. Pour this mixture over duck and sauté well till oil floats. Garnish with slit green chillies, sliced coconut, curry leaves, whole red chilli. Serve hot.

Pulichappam
Urad dal         ½ cup
Grated coconut          1
Yeast            1 tsp
Sugar          3 tsp
Hot water         2 tbsp
Rice flour           1½ cup
Salt     to taste
Curry leaves     1 sprig
Sliced small onions    ½ cup
Coconut oil             1 tbsp

PulichappamPulichappam

Method
Soak urad dal for 4 hours. Mix yeast with lukewarm water and sugar. Grind urad dal with grated coconut. In a bowl mix this mixture with yeast, salt and rice flour. Consistency of this mixture should be like idli batter. Keep aside for four hours and let it rise. In a pan fry onion in coconut oil, sauté curry leaves and remove when onions turn brown. In a steaming pan, layer this onion mixture, pour batter and steam for 25 minutes. Cut it and serve.

Chef Rejimon P.R. is the Senior Sous chef at Trilogy Restaurant, Crowne Plaza, Kochi.

Tags: christmas, food, garlic